The Twins hope to give their fans a Christmas present

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The Strib’s Joe Christensen reports that “there are indications the team hopes to have a new deal with [Joe] Mauer by Christmas.” Um, “indications the team hopes to have. . .” So is it unclear whether the team really hopes to have a deal done, or do they definitely hope to have a deal done and there are merely indications that it can be done?

Forgive my pedantry here, but Mauer is the biggest fish in the sea for two or three seasons in either direction, so parsing this language is just as important as reading Ben Bernanke’s body language to see if the market is going to tank or something. I’m going to assume, based on the fact that Christensen reports that talks between Mauer and the Twins are actually happening now, that the “indications” language is mere sloppiness and that the team and the player are truly on track to have a big honking deal in place in the next month.

Which would be all kinds of fabulous.  Certainly for Twins fans, who will freak out in all kinds of good ways if he’s locked up.  Also for the Twins’ ownership, who will reap the benefits of the freakout in the form of a bunch of new season ticket subscriptions for their new yard and Mauer jerseys flying off the rack with renewed gusto.  But also for baseball as a whole which, given all of the competitive balance fretting that has returned to the zeitgeist in the wake of the Yankees winning the World Series, could use a good “hometown boy stays at home” story heading into January, the darkest month of baseball’s offseason.

Indeed, if the Twins sign Mauer now, the only people who will be upset is that particularly annoying subset of Yankees and Red Sox fan who think that it’s their birthright to possess every good player within, oh, a decade of free agency and covets said players accordingly.

Man I hate those dudes.

Murray Chass rightfully nails Major League Baseball on minority hiring

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When Murray Chass lays off his vendettas against the people he feels have wronged him, he’s still capable of making some sharp points. Particularly when he’s working in his old bailiwick of the business of baseball.

On Sunday he wrote a blog post about minority hiring in baseball. As in, the nearly complete lack of it, at least in front offices:

Manfred has talked a better job on minority hiring than he has performed. He has created a pipeline program through which members of minorities are supposed to be able to advance into major league front office positions. However, no role models seem to exist as inspiration for younger employees.

In Manfred’s 20 months as commissioner, clubs have hired or promoted 19 high-ranking executives. Eighteen of the 19 are white males. The lone minority is Al Avila, the Tigers’ general manager.

Chass reports that Rob Manfred and, in the past, Bud Selig have leaned on clubs to hire friends or trusted lieutenants but claim they have no power to tell clubs who to hire when it comes to minorities. It’s pretty dang good point.

Moving beyond Chass’ points, it’s worth observing that one way baseball could better populate the executive ranks would be to hire more minorities in entry-level positions. What a better way to become a friend and crony than to have, you know, been there a long time? The game has had a horrible track record in doing this, however, for one simple reason: it pays crap wages for all but the highest of executive positions, pushing away candidates for whom money is, in fact, an object to pursuing a dream in baseball which, by demographic necessity, favors the rich and thus favors whites. Earlier this year MLB launched a pipeline program aimed at getting more minority candidates into entry level MLB jobs. That’s a good start to addressing the problem, but it’s going to take years for that to bear fruit, assuming it ever does.

Back in June Kate Morrison and Russell A. Carleton of Baseball Prospectus wrote a four-part series regarding this very issue, and it’s well worth your time. Among the points made is one that, given his vendettas, Chass surprisingly didn’t make himself: sabermetrics is partially to blame! Go read Kate and Russell’s work on that, but the short version: front offices want MBA/STEM types now, not people with athletic backgrounds. People with those degrees have expensive educations and, in turn, cannot afford to take pennies to work in baseball when they can make far more in other industries, thereby continuing to favor the rich and the white.

I don’t think Rob Manfred or Bud Selig before him or the people who run major league baseball teams are bigots. I don’t think that baseball, as a whole, wants to keep minorities out of top jobs. Chass doesn’t make such a claim either and he, like I, noted the pipeline program.

But baseball is a business rife with cronyism and nepotism which leads those in power to hire friends and relatives, thereby keeping the executive class overwhelmingly male and white. Baseball has shown that, when it wants to, it can lean on teams to make certain hiring choices. Will it do the same to push for greater minority representation in management ranks? Or will it continue to throw up its hands up and say “hey, that’s on the clubs?”

Tim Tebow hits a homer in his first instructional league at bat

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - SEPTEMBER 20: Tim Tebow #15 of the New York Mets hits a home run at an instructional league day at Tradition Field on September 20, 2016 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Because of course he did.

It wasn’t just his first at bat, but it was his first pitch. It came off of John Kilichowski, an 11th round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals out of Vanderbilt.  The ball went out to left center, off the bat of the lefty Tebow.

Next time, meat, throw him a breaking ball.